In collaboration with the Unicef and Ministry of Health.
7th of April is World Health Day. Most of the population of Burundi is not receiving health information. Households are located in rural areas with limited access to health facilities. Therefore AUXFIN developed and launched the HealthCoach at the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. The HealthCoach is deployed to 200.000 rural households and contains all the basic information to understand what COVID-19 is and how to prevent getting infected. The information is provided using short videos of 1 minute and simple text containing the key messages, and has been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF. Our activators were also equipped with a thermometer to screen people with a feverish temperature and to advise them to a health facility.
Evaluations show that the groups using the HealthCoach have increased knowledge of COVID-19 and implemented preventative measures. 90% of groups acquired their knowledge on COVID-19 from movies (1973 groups). The groups are appreciative of having learned how to protect themselves from COVID-19, they take the pandemic seriously and are afraid of the spread in their community.
The two most implemented preventive measures are frequent hand washing and avoiding shaking of hands. The number hand washing stations in the groups increased and other measures taken are: temperature measurement, sneezing/coughing in the elbow, cleaning surfaces and social distancing at gatherings.
The taking of temperature had resulted in the signaling of an increased temperature in 23% of the groups. In 22% of groups COVID-19 tests were taken and this led to a diagnosis of COVID-19 in 2% of the groups, a total of 36 cases.
Outside the HealthCoach a part of the groups had also received information from governmental campaigns and over the radio. Users explain:
● Thade from Gitega: “We appreciate the information about health. Many members don’t have a radio. Now in the tablet those members can also receive information on health.”
● Jean-Marie: “The movies are helpful because we hear about coronavirus but do not know how to do the measures. We also have health workers who visit us every once in a while.”
● Pascal from Kayanza: “For COVID we protect ourselves better. There was one case of COVID who had symptoms and we took that person to the hospital. This person got tested positively, and the whole family was put in quarantine”.
During evaluations group members request to have the same information for other diseases. Most frequently mentioned is malaria, HIV/AIDS, eye problems, diabetes, birth control and family planning. The development of the HealthCoach continues as first launches the inclusion of malaria and nutrition information.
In 2021 the HealthCoach will be scaled to another 200.000 households, reaching an estimated total 2.3 million people in Burundi.
The HealthCoach is provided to rural households using the G50 approach of AUXFIN. Groups of 50 neighbouring households are organised, and governed by three leaders elected by the group and who serve as representatives for the community: male and female, young and old. The groups are voluntary, but excluding members of the community is not permitted. This makes the G50 system an inclusive approach. The groups are provided with a tablet to have access to the digital services provided by the UMVA platform including financial services, agricultural information services and access to agricultural inputs. Most applications including the HealthCoach can be used offline to assure access of information also when the internet is failing.
In the combat of the COVID-19 virus in Africa, digital services (finance, transactions) are regarded as an essential solution to help communities deal with the crisis, to avoid physical contact and limit the need to travel while not shutting down the local economies. AUXFIN is ready to deploy it’s service ecosystem also outside Burundi.
The HealthCoach is funded by the Dutch Embassy in Burundi.